Adrian Wyld The Canadian Press Steve de Eyre, director of public policy and Government Affairs of TikTok Canada, stressed Wednesday during a House of Commons committee meeting that the video-sharing application is not controlled by the Chinese government.
A TikTok executive on Wednesday faced Canadian lawmakers who fear the app's data could end up in the hands of the Chinese government.
Steve de Eyre, director of public policy and government affairs for TikTok Canada, stressed at a House of Commons committee meeting that the video-sharing app is not controlled by the Chinese government .
Western governments have raised concerns that the popular platform owned by Beijing-based ByteDance could put sensitive data in the hands of the Chinese government or be used as a disinformation tool.
Chinese law says the government can order companies to help it gather intelligence.
When NDP MP Matthew Green asked about the law, another TikTok executive brushed it off out of hand.
“I'm not an expert on Chinese law,” said David Lieber, head of privacy public policy for the Americas.
The federal government banned TikTok from government-owned devices in February, after its chief information officer announced the app created an “unacceptable” level of privacy and security risk.
The provinces then followed suit and banned TikTok from government devices, which Mr. de Eyre considers unfair.
He added that he has since contacted the Treasury Board and the head of the information to better understand the government's position.
“We operate the same way as other platforms. I will say that our policy — and we've been public about this — is that it's probably not necessary to have social media apps or entertainment or gaming apps on an employee's device. government. But these rules must apply equally to all platforms,” he told the standing committee on access to information, protection of personal information and ethics.
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Federal and provincial privacy authorities have also investigated whether TikTok complies with privacy legislation.
A growing number of governments, including state -United States banned the popular video-sharing app due to growing cybersecurity concerns.
In Australia, the app was banned from government devices after the country's attorney general received advice from intelligence and security agencies.
The European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union have also imposed bans on their devices, and advised their staff to remove the TikTok application from their personal devices.
Mr. Lieber said TikTok takes steps to protect Canadian data by storing it on servers located in the United States, Malaysia and Singapore.
He said the Chinese government never requested Canadians' data, but admitted that “it would be irresponsible for me or any other employee of a technology company to give categorical guarantees about what governments are capable or incapable in terms of their ability to carry out activities, including hacking, on their own initiative.”
An intelligence note from September 2022, disclosed under the Access to Information Act, shed new light on the government's concerns about TikTok.
The note from the secretariat of the The Privy Council Office's intelligence assessment says TikTok is the first Chinese app to reach more than a billion users outside of China, “creating a ubiquitous, global-integrated platform for collection and influence.” global scale that Beijing could exploit.”
“Despite assurances, there is growing evidence that TikTok data is accessible to China,” reads the document, which draws on both open sources and classified information. /p>
In a first-of-its-kind report on Chinese disinformation released last month, the US State Department claimed that ByteDance sought to prevent potential critics of Beijing, including those outside China, from to use its platforms.
The report says the US government has information from late 2020 that ByteDance “maintains a regularly updated internal list” identifying blocked individuals or banned from accessing its platforms, including TikTok, “for reasons including defending Uighur independence.”
A TikTok spokesperson, who did not given name, said Wednesday that “such lists do not exist for TikTok.”
With information from the Associated Press